I have commissioned an 8×12 life boat. It will sit in my back yard, in that spot that used to be a culvert to it slopes real bad and the dogs poop there. It has a green roof that for some reason is made of bullet proof plastic, a little loft big enough for a futon mattress, and a built in desk with a bay window. Commonly called a shed, a shop, a studio, whatever. I say lifeboat. It will save not only my life but the life of my children, who are threatened daily by the violent tides of my need for them to shut the hell up.
I have earned probably about the last $2000 of my writing income crunched and sore, with a stout three year old wedged between my back and my office chair. He clings to my back like a bonobo, resting his enormous head on mine to watch the 4 Ice Age movies over and over. It was all right at first but he’s growing and his skull is beginning to push mine into my screen.
Then there is my daughter, who still subconsciously believes she will poof into dust unless someone is aggressively interacting with her. Work is impossible in the hours she’s awake. So I spend my days waiting for 8pm…not to cuddle up with my husband and some exciting violent films, but so I can sit down and research who did or did not actually first say, “Be the change you wish to be in the world.” Probably wasn’t Gandhi.
I will decorate this shed in every way my husband has blocked for the last 15 years. He doesn’t want a framed 1920’s girdle on his wall never mind how lucky I was to find one. He wants my 1907 electric vibrator kept in it’s lovely wood box. All all those delightfully politically incorrect pictures from old textbooks about the physiology of “The Negroid and Mongoloid Races”….you won’t find them framed proudly among the rather dull art on our walls.
But my shed…it will be all for me.
Friday I walked into an all but bare room at an estate sale and all but fell prostrate in front of a triumph of mid-century leisure. Wooden scrollwork on the armrests. A rocker swivel easy chair that pre-dated proper recliners. Ruby red velvet. Perfect size for my little fortress. Also…pretty perfect for a 1970’s whore house but honestly that just makes me love it MORE.
$35. Perfect condition.
“U Haul it.” They meant it.
Down the narrow stairs of the ancient house, past the porch, more steps, more steps, and then the street. To my Camry. My little, practical Camry.
The lady running the sale offered to hold it on the porch till I could “come back with another rig.” First of all, I love people who say, “rig.” Second of all, I live knee deep in hippie academics and I don’t even KNOW anyone who has an automobile that could be considered a “rig.” It was going in the Camry. So help me.
The only bad thing about estate sale-ing on a Friday morning is that all the other people milling about are retirees with bad backs. I had never seen such a large group of nice-looking people in which no one offered to help. Usually you can count on one old fella to strut out and hitch his suspenders and do his best to help a little lady in need. But this group of Golden Years just watched from the windows, commenting, and let’s face it, enjoying the show. Fair enough. It was a good show.
If you were to go by the laws of physics, there was no way that velvet throne was going to fit into my car. But I was operating under the laws of love, which have different properties.
Help did come. A woman, whose name is Sharon, was the only person of many who stopped and offered real help. My completely unconvincing “oh no no I have it,” which had inspired grateful relief on the few others who had stopped didn’t deter her.
I had just squeezed the back rest into my front seat, and lay near collapse against the butt end of the chair, which, to the unbeliever, appeared to be larger than the opening through which I was attempting to shove it, making my efforts a physical impossibility. Faithless!
I was a sweating, chest heaving mess. I’m out of shape. And asthmatic. And…apparently angering God by defying the laws of nature.
“Can I help?”
I stopped talking and bent over to get my head below my knees. “Think I’ll throw up,” I panted.
Sharon embraced the situation. “Yeah you’re a bit pale. Now, just breathe. Long slow breathes here we go. Good.”
Sharon would be early 60’s, I’d guess, in men’s clothes and a fanny pack because, I assume, it’s damn well what made her comfortable. At any rate the clothes gave her the freedom of motion her to crawl into the other side of my car and pull while I pushed. Though she didn’t specify which direction and I was starting to go stupid from lack of oxygen so that didn’t work out. But somehow…inch by inch…the chair entered the car.
“You really need to clean out this car,” she told me.
“I…am……a slob. With slob children,” I wheezed back at her.
A man near my own age walked out of the estate sale carrying a frog puppet. His name was Jeremy. And he tried to help to. He moved it a couple more inches until 90 percent of my whorehouse throne was wedged against different surfaces of my car. Door was not going to close. Jeremy appeared with bungee cords. He and I both sensed a use for them…but stared dumbly at them. I no longer had enough oxygen in my brain to suss out problems like this and Jeremy was a sweet soul carrying a frog puppet around with him. So it was Sharon who told us to roll down the window and bind the open door to the shut one.
As I was lying on the ground recovering, Sharon and I discovered we were both writers, humor ones at that. I beat her to the business card trade, cuz mine were floating loose in a big green bag made out of Thai packing burlap that I carry with me because I’m unique and quirky and you’re goddamn well going to know it.
So a warm, breathless nauseated thank you to Sharon, and Jeremy, for my one of a kind shed chair. That was some serious kindness and it was completely inconvenient for you to give it, but you did anyhow.
May this be the first of much writing that rare ruby inspires. And may most of it being the paying sort.